All is fair in love and conversion…

Another post at “de-conversion” got me thinking.  The post is called “My life of proselytization“, this time from HeisSailing…   

In his post, he said:

 “I witnessed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for most of my adult life”. 

Now, I was much younger  than he was when I was a full force believer.  But, I believe I felt just as strongly.  I believed it all.  I went around trying to “save” all the kids in my neighborhood… but, my main mission was to save my own father.   

HeisSailing made a comment about getting his mom to come to church:

“I would try to convince my mother, once a committed Christian and now a practical atheist, the error of her backsliding ways. I even got her to go to church with me a few times, but not before informing the pastor that I was bringing her and if he would not mind directing a word or two of his message her way.”

This really reminded me of how when I was a young girl, I would be pressured into singing or doing “specials” in front of the church.  Then, I would be asked to put the pressure on my father to come to church to see me.  After all, I was “Daddy’s little girl”, didn’t he want to see me perform?  So, he did come… for at least the first few years of “specials”. 

Each time he said “yes honey, I’ll come see you sing” –  I would report back to my mother.  Then my mother, her friends, the pastor, and my brother and I would rejoice.  He’ s coming!  Hallelujah!  And we’d all pray hard every day until the day of the “special”, that when he came… THIS would be the time the lord would come down and bonk him on the head and turn him into the perfect Christian father and husband.  When it didn’t happen… we’d go back to plan A.  Try, try again.  Repeatedly I was put in this position of trying to save my own father.  For years. 

Eventually, my father stopped coming to every “special” of mine.  He knew the deal… and he didn’t like being approached by the pastor and pressured each time he came either.  It was like the whole church was looking at him when he’d come.  “Here comes that atheist husband and father!”.  They could’ve sold tickets to see the freak atheist!  LOL  So, I can’t blame him for not wanting to come – even at the time.  He probably also sensed the pressure being put on me, and didn’t want to be a part of that either. 

I know it was very hard for him to eventually start telling me, “no honey, I won’t come see you sing”.  I would then have to report back to my mother that I had failed.. he won’t come… I’m sorry.  She would then freak out and get very upset.  She made me feel terrible when he didn’t come.  She’d make me ask him again and again.  And, then they’d argue and she’d try to make him feel guilty for not coming,  and make ME feel guilty and like he didn’t care about me in the process.

Eventually, I didn’t WANT to keep singing either.  (surprise surprise!).  Mostly because I didn’t want to keep pressuring my dad and going thru this.. and because I was starting to have my own doubts about all of it.  Not only about my beliefs, but I started wondering if I even had a good voice or not!  (loletinf!;)  When I finally stood up for myself and said that I didn’t want to do a “special”, I suddenly didn’t feel so special anymore.  Not just my mother, but the church leaders also made me feel really bad.  Like I was a quitter… giving up… back-sliding… and, they then put pressure and guilt trips on ME asking me over and over when I would sing again.  My mother even said something like, “how is your father ever going to be saved now??! “. 

Looking back, I can’t believe how much plotting and scheming it all was.  The pressure, fear, and guilt used! Unfortunately, since I was in it, I understand their thinking and putting the pressure on my Dad.  They really felt it was their duty and apparently rudeness, politeness, respect, and common courtesy fly out the window when you are trying to save someone’s soul (and do your Christian duty ).  This is bad enough. 

However, what really gets me (and I don’t want to sound whiney here, but) is how could they do that to me?  I was a little girl.  A little CHRISTIAN girl who wanted to believe all they were teaching.  They played me.  They used me.  How could they put that kind of pressure, guilt and fear on me?!?

 And, when I say “they”, it was NOT just by my mother.  It was also her friends, the pastor, the choir director, the church leaders.  What kind of people scare the crap out of a little girl telling her that her father, (who she loved wholeheartedly and was a GREAT Dad) was going to burn in hell?  Tell her that over and over?? Which is bad enough… but, then tack on the, “unless YOU can save him” part.  ??  And we prayed.. and prayed…  And I cried… and cried…

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how adults, in their right minds, could think this was an okay thing to do.  ??  The “RIGHT” thing to do??  It makes me mad still when I think about it, and leads me to the only logical conclusion I can think of, and that is that they ALL were not in their right minds! 

HeisSailing wrote:

” I then became exhausted from witnessing. I was exhausted and drained from believing that I and my small sect of Christian brethren have the exclusivity on truth and everyone else, no matter what their beliefs, are going to eternal torment. I was sick of believing that I was on the narrow path of righteousness, and my loved ones are on the wide path leading to destruction when in many cases, they are just simply much better people than I am.”

This is a huge part of why I eventually didn’t believe and don’t believe in any one religion, or in religion or God at all really.  Not only because I can’t fathom the idea of my own father going to hell (which is a biggie, I admit), but, also ALLLLLL the other people.  It can’t be.  It makes no sense. 

HeisSailing then wrapped up his post by saying:

“Then I became sick of that guilt, I became sick of that arrogance of exclusivity, I became sick of looking at our life as a trial from God to see if we believed the correct doctrines, and I refused to accept it anymore.”

Like him, I also “became sick” of these same things…  The eternal dangling carrot, and the constant fear of hell. I am glad to be rid of them.    

PS – If you haven’t already – I suggest you go read HeisSailing’s post in full, as he writes much better than me and makes his points with much better reasoning…

Take care,

~smj

7 Responses to “All is fair in love and conversion…”

  1. Heather Says:

    However, what really gets me (and I don’t want to sound whiney here, but) is how could they do that to me?

    This isn’t whiney at all. This is justified anger. It goes back to what I commented on with HIS post, and the whole “the ends justify the means” approach that I see in certain Christian quarters. As you stated, all civlizied behavior just flies out the window, so long as a soul is won at the end. It’s also preying on the vulnerable, such as you, because you weren’t old enough to realize what was going on, or even able to recognize how to stop it — especially as it was coming from a huge authority figure, like your mother.

    This behavior is horrible, and does no credit to God. AFter all, if these are God’s spokespeople, then what is God like?


    ======SMJ REPLY:

    Thanks Heather – I appreciate your saying that and validating my feelings. Your comments on HIS post regarding the way people try to convert others are exactly what I’m talking about. I understand it, somewhat, because I remember how strong the feelings were to “save” people…. but, now that I am removed from that situation, I can’t believe people think it’s “okay”… especially when it comes to kids that they are pressuring and using these tactics on. But, that’s just it – they don’t see them as “tactics” – because they think they are doing the “right” thing. Like so much of Christian thinking and beliefs – it makes no sense to me. Thanks again for stopping by… I look forward to reading more from you on the other sites too…

    ~smj

  2. bianca bean Says:

    You do not sound whiney. This is an f’ed up thing to go through as a kid. Don’t be self-conscious at all. Besides, what you are saying is relatable to so many people who were raised in dysfunctional loops like this and as children were made to feel responsible for their parents. Get rid of it ith your writing; it needs to get gone.

    ======SMJ REPLY:

    Thanks Bean – I truly appreciate the feedback and validating. I just made some posts to you on your blog – which I’m thoroughly enjoying, btw. I do think writing about things helps. It’s amazing how I will start writing about one thing, and wind up on tangent not even knowing I felt so strongly sometimes.
    LOL ;)
    ~smj

  3. roopster Says:

    SMJ,
    Email me when you get a chance. I’d love to post this on the dC blog.
    Paul
    roopster@gmail.com

  4. JSA Says:

    SMJ, I see you like evanescence. So do I. There is another artist very similar to her syle..PLUMB. Not sure if you heard of her, she writes, produces and sings her own songs/ She also has a CD of lullaby’s to her two boys. Beautiful. Take Care,

  5. Personalizing « Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist Says:

    […] on the “look out” – anticipating her moods and needs.  Not to mention literally feeling like it was my responsibility to ”save” my own father’s soul.  Hello???  Talk about pressure!! No wonder I […]

  6. samanthamj Says:

    JSA – Thanks for the visit and suggestion. I have heard of PLUMB… she’s more Christian comtemporary rock or something, right? I think her music crosses over… I can see some comparison’s in their music… Plumb does have a beautiful voice and has an edge or darker side to much of her music.

  7. A Christian Says:

    Hello again. I posted on one of your other pages (I think it was Christian by default). Anyway, I reiterate what I said there. I am so sorry this happened to you. The comment below from Heather kind of drives my point home from that post(“This behavior is horrible, and does no credit to God. AFter all, if these are God’s spokespeople, then what is God like?”)

    My wish for you is to someday know, really know, how much God loves you. You are very special to him, questions, doubts and all.


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